Will Rogers humorously noted, “Long ago when men cursed and beat the ground with sticks, it was called witchcraft. Today it’s called golf.”
Have you ever gone golfing with someone and watched them completely lose their composure when their swing was errant? I’ve seen players wrap a club around a tree in anger, hurl clubs in frustration, beat the ground with putters, irons or drivers, and, turn completely red in the face—totally frustrated by the uncooperative antics of a small white ball.
If you need more drama in your life, try this—sit in the middle seat on a packed airplane with two screaming babies nearby and feel the tension rise on the plane. Some people are wishing they could be anywhere else on the planet. Others wonder what is wrong with the parents that they cannot get their baby to be quiet. Some are compassionate—no doubt they’ve been in the same awkward spot with their own little children. Still others remain oblivious, sheltered inside their noise-cancelling headphones loudly playing Simon and Garfunkel’s classic, “The Sound of Silence.”
Brian Birdwell in his book Refined by Fire wrote, “We all face personal fires—those life-changing, traumatic times when the course of our lives are altered.” On September 11, 2001, terrorists hijacked and crashed American Airlines Flight 77 into the Pentagon. MAJ Brian Birdwell was so close to the impact area that the ensuing explosion burned 60% of his body. He endured over thirty surgeries, fought off numerous life-threatening infections and suffered continuous horrific pain to the point that he “begged God constantly to let me die.”
Admiral Yi Sun-Shin (1545–98)is one of the most famous military heroes in Korean history. He was born into a poor family but through hard work and effort rose to become a brilliant strategist and Admiral. At the age of 28 he took the government examination to become an officer but during the practical portion fell off his horse and failed. Shamed by his failure he worked harder and four years later he retook the exam and passed. Eventually his persistence and wisdom convinced his superiors to give him command of a naval station in Cholla province.
Dinner with Carlos and his family turned out to be quite extraordinary. We arrived looking to encourage them with our Hope and instead enjoyed rich fellowship. Francisco, Rocio, and their three children all have a strong faith in God. While eating Rocio’s incredible Tamales, I asked Francisco how he came to meet the Lord.
Greg is an avid kayaker. Along with his two sons, they decided to make a trip on the Tennessee River. Together they had a great day paddling until they hit a section where five-foot swells continually pounded them. His boys were in larger kayaks and had little difficulty cutting through the waves. Soon they were far away from Greg. But their dad hit a portion in the middle of the river where he could no longer cut through the waves and he began to take on water. With only a water bottle to bail he continued to sink. Calmly recognizing that his life was in serious danger, he prayed, “God, I need Your help, there is nothing I can do.”
Eldon, an elderly couple, a widow and I chatted as we descended from the 14thfloor on our way to the banquet. Suddenly the elevator lurched and we heard what sounded like slipping chains or misaligned gears and we came to a stop somewhere just below the 6thfloor. If the cables holding us broke I figured we had about a 7-story fall and who knows what injuries we might sustain. The notion of death crossed my mind and I thought how weird and unforeseen it would be to die with my great one-star-Lord-loving boss in a hotel elevator!
The Deschutes River in Oregon is 173.4 miles long. It runs through rugged forest and deserted desert sometimes cascading with terrific roar, sometimes ambling like some peaceful toddler. It is a great river to fish for steelhead and salmon. On the lower Deschutes people often come to whitewater raft. And for that experience, my son, Stephen and I, joined 17 folks from Southwest Hills Baptist Church.